The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part XCVI: Dethroning the King
By Ray Adams
In recent weeks, Poor Frank’s rival, Lucky Archie, had been the subject of much talk among local bridge buffs. He had been coming out of the woodwork after passing originally, bidding what appeared to be a wild 3NT and actually making his contracts. This had led to many people calling him “The Notrump King.” Poor Frank was appalled at this and vowed to do his best to dethrone the so-called king whenever he got a chance. He got his first opportunity when the following hand came up:
Poor Frank found himself on opening lead against another one of Lucky Archie’s “out of nowhere” 3NT contracts. He fingered the four of spades and wondered what his rival must have for his bid. Well, there was nothing to do but lead partner’s suit and wait to study dummy. He placed the four on the table. It went to the six, king, and declarer’s five. East now returned the jack of spades, drawing the seven from the Lucky One. Poor Frank was on the verge of playing his eight of spades when he stopped and considered the position.
Since Lucky Archie had passed in second position, it seemed unlikely that he had more than twelve high card points. But that many was a distinct possibility. He obviously planned on running clubs and his negative double suggested he had hearts. Poor Frank visualized a possible hand for the Lucky One: maybe four clubs to the king and queen, obviously three spades to the ace, and possibly four hearts to the queen and jack. That was twelve points and if Poor Frank played the eight on this spade, partner would drive out the ace. But the only quick entry was in the West hand, not the hand with the long spades. So holding up would allow Lucky Archie to take four clubs, one spade, four hearts, and the ace of diamonds. Making four. No, that could not be allowed.
The Lucky One had to be vulnerable in diamonds. So Poor Frank overtook partner’s jack with the queen and switched to the ten of diamonds. Declarer tried the queen, but East won the king and returned the suit. Suddenly Lucky Archie was in trouble. The defense already had two spade tricks in the bag and now they had established three potential diamond tricks while West still had the ace of clubs as an entry. Instead of making an overtrick, Lucky Archie found himself down two.
Lucky Archie looked deflated as he wrote minus 200 in his private scorecard. “How did you know to shift to a diamond, Frank?” he said.
“I didn’t know for sure, Archie,” Poor Frank said. “But I knew I definitely didn’t want to write minus 630 on my scorecard.”
And for once, all the local bridge buffs were congratulating Poor Frank on his sterling defense and wishing Lucky Archie better luck the next time.